Trending Now: Brand communication in the new age of influencers

Shenaz Bapooji, Chief Marketing Officer, Shopmatic Group, highlights how digitisation is taking over all spheres of life. She also talks about how consumers are constantly seeking affirmations from genuine users and not necessarily from ‘great ads’. 

What were the few big changes that you think were of importance in 2019 for our industry?
Digitisation in every walk of life – I think that’s the thing that we saw a lot of last year, and we will continue to see in 2020. Earlier, there was a ‘digital’ world and a ‘non-digital’ world. Today, the boundaries are no longer distinct – they are getting more and more fused with each passing day. 

Doing things quickly, easily and on the go, have become the norm and therefore, whatever resolves the need for ‘immediacy’ reigns. Customers are leading the charge in expecting much more from their time, and are, therefore, embracing ‘digitalisation’ with open arms. 

What are the big changes that you are expecting in 2020?
I expect to see much more facilitation given to anyone wanting to do things digitally; much more adoption of digital across mini metros and Tier 2/3 cities of India. 

While customers become more demanding, brands will need to come up with much better solutions to connect with the audiences, where they spend most of their time – on their phones, on the Internet, on chat, on social... their new universe. 

We are seeing a new age of influencers play a huge role in affecting the way customers perceive themselves, perceive brands, perceive fashion, perceive the new way of doing things. Even GenZs are influencers today. 

We will see a lot of gravity given to endorsements and reviews from people that you never ever knew – but whose opinions will count in making purchase decisions. 

On the other side, I also see a lot of entrepreneurs taking to the digital world to create their own identities, and to get known for that ‘special’ thing only they know how to do. 

There will be many more digital solutions to everyday problems that customers have today. We will also see a strong interplay between what happens in the physical space and what happens in the digital space. 

How has consumer behaviour changed with the introduction of tech-based marketing?
There has been a dramatic change in customer attention today. If you thought a great headline or a 30-second ad was all that you had to deal with to capture customer attention, then think again. The average number of tabs that a person has open in their browsers today, range from anywhere from 10 to even 50. Consumers navigate between different things in the online world and you have to get their attention before they blink! 

Whist AI, Chat Bots, Machine Learning, finger-tip access to information have all helped push the envelope on better decision making for marketeers and customers alike, it has also opened up several challenges for people. 

Consumers today are looking for content that is worth their attention and is simple to consume. They want to be spoken with and engaged and not talked to or ‘addressed’. 

They are looking for more tangible elements to latch on to, to feel they can trust a company or a product; they are constantly seeking affirmations from genuine users and not necessarily from ‘great ads’. 

Are we expected to see some big shifts around data regulation in India? How will it affect business?
Data privacy is of utmost importance in the digital world. I have a lot of people tell me that they feel they are being stalked all the time. Yes, I am sure there are a lot of regulations that will be put into play that do not compromise the individual identity of customers/ buyers/ brands. 

How do you anticipate the AdEx growth across platforms in 2020?
Spends on Digital will increase and the growth numbers will look great. We are already seeing a rise in OTT today, thanks to the penetration of both the Internet and mobile phones in the country. 

I don’t think they will overtake TV – we are far away from that reality. But, all of these mediums will happily co-exist – Digital, TV, Radio, Cinema and even some forms of print, as they each have a distinct role to play in the customers’ decision making journey.


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